The days are long, and home is an RV

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 24, 2002

North of Selma on Highway 22 makeshift offices have been set up along side the road. Employees of Murphy Brothers Inc. step carefully between trailers over rocks the size of a child’s fist that litter the parking area. Massive pipes lay nearby, waiting to be placed in line.

That’s when the first employees of Murphy Brothers came to the area, said Bice, who works in the payroll department. Murphy Brothers is a pipe laying contracting company that was hired by the Williams/Transco Gas Company to lay about 25 miles of 48-inch carbon steel pipe that will be used to move natural gas.

Around Sept. 1 warehouse offices were set up and the gravel brought in, Bice said. Approximately 470 workers are engaged in the task of laying the pipe.

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Bice noted that the workers come to the area in various stages. Once one stage of the job is complete, the workers rotate out and new ones are brought in.

Bice said the workers would move on to Alexander City after they finish here, but that won’t be for another few months.

It’s a nomadic life. Many of the workers are from out of state and live in RV lots around the city.

Preston Moseley, owner of RPM Lots, said that about 80 workers live in his lot alone and have been there for about two months. He believes they’ll stay for another five or six months.

The lowest price at RPM Lots is $11.50 a night.

Because many of the workers live in RV’s and move at least once a year, activities like shopping and eating become more challenging than usual. Especially when the hours of many workers are from 4:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., six days a week.

Diane Allen, assistant office manager, said she liked shopping at Wal-Mart, while Bice prefers Birmingham and Montgomery.

Both said that workers frequent Major Grumbles and Tally-Ho, two local restaurants in town.

Kelley Wilder, environmental inspector for the Williams Company, also went to Tally-Ho when his wife came to visit him a few weeks ago.

Wal-Mart and Winn-Dixie are also popular places for Williams Company employees, according to Wilder. Especially Wal-Mart, because it’s open 24 hours and workers’ free time is very limited.

Keith Edwards, utility inspector for Williams, works similar hours. However, during the few free hours he has each week he enjoys driving around the historical district of Selma.

Both men stated that the people they’ve met in Selma have been very kind to them.

Neither has their family with them while they are working on the pipeline, so most nights they join people from several trailers after work and cook together.

Edwards noted that living in an RV is actually better than a motel because you can bring your own bed sheets, utensils and personal items to make the RV feel more like a home.

Wilder estimates that he’ll be in the area until March 1, depending on the weather and clean-up procedures. Afterwards, he hopes to take a two- to three-week vacation to the beach, maybe to the Bahamas.

This is not the first time that Murphy Brothers has contracted with the Williams Company. The current job is actually a continuation of a job they did last year when they were in the area for about six months.

When they finished the contract last year they moved on to a different job in Laurel, Miss. After that job was completed they returned to Selma. Soon, they’ll move on again.